My company tagline is, Discovering India Differently, and this day, heading away from the main sights of Varanasi, led me to do just that.
We headed out of Varanasi, in the words of the song (almost) “To see what we could see,” a soon found ourselves in the countryside where we came across a Gaushala or cow rescue centre. Having seen so many old/infirm/injured cows over the years just left to wonder the streets, I was intrigued and so decided to explore further.
On venturing inside, we met with a lot of happy cows and discovered that it was started in 1924 by a Rajasthani saint called Jhawardutt Dharma. The milk produced by the cows is donated to a nearby charity and the cow dung, we were told, gets sent across the road to a women’s initiative.
Hold on a moment! There’s a women’s initiative across the road? Well, those of you who know me know what that meant, right? Yes, off across the road we trotted.
Now across said road, at said women’s initiative, we met a very friendly bunch of ladies who welcomed us with shy giggles and huge smiles. It turns out that they spend all day producing masalas and pappads. I not have to say, there’s not a lot to be said for grinding brilliant red, hot chillies every day.
A couple of other ladies were sitting outside making pappads. An easier task some might think. On further questioning, I discovered that each lady earns INR25 per kg of pappads made. Now, anyone who has ever stuck their finger into the middle of a pile of pappads in their local Indian restaurant (come on, don’t tell me that’s just me) will appreciate that they are light right? So I asked how many pappads make one kg. The answer, 260 which is rather a lot! It transpires that each lady makes 3kgs per day, I’ll do the maths for you, that’s 780 pappads per day. I bet they don’t eat them when they get home!
Now in all these revelations, I bet you’ve lost sight of the cow dung? No? Good, “But what is it used for?” I hear you ask, well, let me tell you. They convert it into bio gas which they use to cook the pappads.
So basically, this picture is of me eating a freshly made kali mirch pappad cooked with cow farts, and I have to say, it was very tasty!